Friday, March 30, 2012

Here we go!!

Sorry folks, this post has been a long time coming...didn't mean to leave you with such a downer post for so long (though it had a happy ending, right?).

So lots going on here on the farm.  Darryl and I have been holding it down at Eastern Market.  I hope you all have gotten a chance to come and visit (and maybe picked up a bag of sunshoots!).  We are now in Shed 2 next to Brother Nature Produce for the rest of the year, so you can't miss us.  Last week was our first week out there and despite it being a little cold, it was a pretty good market.  Darryl seems to be really enjoying the market and I really enjoy having the help!  Sales are definitely up over last year, though I don't have an exact percentage, so we're off to a good start!

On the home front, Jack and I have been diligently working away on the fence for the farm.  As you can see from the photo we have completed the eastern side and actually now the northern (Frederick) side is nearly
complete (this photo is a couple weeks old).  We're building it out of the 100 year old lath we've been removing from the farmhouse as we demo.  At this point the lath is multi-colored, which looks really sweet, but I think unfortunately it will all go grey eventually.  I'm not a big fan of fences in theory but the reality is this will hopefully help define what it is we're doing out there for our neighbors.  It shows that its cared for, well maintained, that it isn't a community garden in the sense that folks are welcome to just take whatever, and that we are committed to that space.  Plus its not exactly a fortress razor wire...I knew we forgot something :)
Just to prove that I'm really dedicated to this fence I ceremoniously smashed my thumb with the very first nail and then continued to hammer my blood into the fence (literally, I was getting blood all over the nails).  It seemed very poetic.

Beyond my minor wounds, the fence is coming along really well.  Its a slow process but I feel like that is to our benefit.  Detroiters (and most people) don't do well with sudden change.  Because the fence building is time-intensive our neighbors see us out there nearly every day adding a little more.  It makes the process more on a human-scale.  Plus Finn has been out there with us most of the time and people walking by like to stop and say hi to the cute baby and it really facilitates neighborliness.  We're still the new kids on the block, and since many neighbors have lived here most of their lives we're going to have that title for a while, but that makes it all that much more important for us to be seen and to be seen slowly improving our little bit of the neighborhood.  We're building trust as we build our fence, dismantling the "other" and being seen as just people. Well at least that's what I hope. :)

I've also be busy growing our transplants for this season.  Currently we've got onions, leeks, cabbage, broccoli, collards, lettuce, kale, sweet peppers, and some flowers up and growing.  I learned a very important lesson about not cutting corners with transplants.  Growing supplies are not easily available in the city (yet! Detroit Farm and Garden is opening this Spring!!) so I usually borrow a car and drive all the way to Troy to get some of our transplanting supplies.  Unfortunately I forgot to pick up perlite when I was there and I attempted the the first transplants (the onions, leeks and scallions) without it.  Big mistake!  Perlite, for those who are unfamiliar, is  "an amorphous volcanic glass that has a relatively high water content, typically formed by the hydration of obsidian. It occurs naturally and has the unusual property of greatly expanding when heated sufficiently. It is an industrial mineral and a commercial product useful for its light weight after processing. When used as an amendment it has high permeability / low water retention and helps prevent soil compaction."  Thank you Wikipedia.  Its the little white balls you see in potting soil.  So basically without the perlite the soil in the transplant trays is compacted and doesn't drain well which results in roots rotting and plants dying. :(  Thankfully I was able to get some perlite off Patrick at Earthworks and most of our transplants are doing just fine.  Actually the cabbages are ready to be hardened off (the picture of "Red Express and "Farao" is our cabbages but a couple weeks ago) and if it wasn't so dang cold and windy they'd be outside right now.  It seems cruel to subject them to this kind of weather after living in the warm cozy attic all their lives.  But the day will come when we got to kick them out of the nest, give them a few bucks, wish them luck and send them on their way....we'll try again next week. :)

Out in the field the garlic is up, peas and beets are planted and hopefully we'll be planting spinach, onions, carrots and our cabbages next week. 

We are tittering on the brink of the busy season and all the excitement, anxiousness, and anticipation is beginning to unfold. I think it is going to be an amazing season. We're better established with our land (though it would really be nice to actually own all of it...if you have contacts to the City of Detroit that could help us, please let us know!!), feeling really good about having Darryl on board, and just feeling like its all coming together, slowly but surely.  I have been so fortunate to be given the chance to do what I love in a city I love (most of the time) and to work along side such amazing farmers, activists and neighbors.  

Thank you all for your support! 


  1. If you put tung oil or another sealer (polly will work but is pretty gross) it should delay the graying and keep it sealed so it lasts longer. Tung oil is just boiled linseed oil and is often labled as such. Its safe as far as run off into the garden and other such envir concerns.